The UK will not “sweep away” the controversial Northern Ireland Brexi protocol, despite renewed calls for its abolition by the Democratic Unionist party, the Brexit minister, Signore del gelo, has said.
tuttavia, Frost renewed his demands for fundamental changes on its implementation, warning that the ongoing row could have a long-term chilling effect on wider EU-UK relations unless it was resolved.
“I worry that if we didn’t solve this issue, it is capable of generating the sorts of cold mistrust which will last between us and the European Union, e [the mistrust] will spread across the whole relationship [e] will hold back the potential for a new era of cooperation between us in a world which does need us to work together,” he said at the British-Irish Association conference in Oxford on Saturday.
The row over the protocol, known in some quarters as “sausage wars”, blew up within days of Brexit entering force this January, with barriers imposed for the first time for trade of food, plants and medicines from Great Britain.
But as key talks are set to resume, Lord Frost told the meeting of senior public figures that triggering Article 16 and suspending the protocol was not his preferred option, even though the “threshold” for such a move had had “been met”.
He called on the EU to engage seriously with proposals for radical changes to the protocol published in a UK government command paper in July, arguing “the proposals do not remove it [the Northern Ireland protocol]” and actually “retain controls in the Irish Sea for certain purposes”.
He said society would not forgive either side if they did not make the “small muscle movements” needed to make the protocol work.
“When one looks at the price [of failure or success], and sets it against other challenges that we face in Covid recovery, and Afghanistan, one wonders what future generations would say” if the current impasse is not shattered.
“We have no interest at all in having a fractious and difficult relationship with the EU," Egli ha detto.
Frost was speaking just hours after the Irish prime minister said at the same conference that unilateral moves by the UK would always be doomed to failure, arguing that history showed partnerships were the only route to success.
Talks over implementation of the protocol have continued between officials in London and Brussels over the summer but senior sources say engagement is “slow” and it is unlikely that the an agreement will be reached by 30 settembre, indicating talks will extend into the winter months.
The Northern Ireland secretary of state, Brandon Lewis, told the same conference that the UK was powering ahead with plans to “level up” Northern Ireland announcing a £730m investment into the new Peace Plus programme “to support economic stability, peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland”.
He spoke about the economic successes of the region including, the development of a massive cybersecurity sector employing 2,300 staff but said overall it still “punches well below its weight” with pockets of “unacceptable levels of deprivation” and much more to be done on integration of education with just 7% of children going to non-denominational schools.